U.S. Capitol Terror

Title: Bomb Carrier In U.S. House Prompts Tightened Security
Date: November 2, 1998
New York Times

Abstract: The Capitol police re-adjusted metal detectors and installed sensitive bomb-detecting equipment last month after a tourist entered the House gallery with a homemade bomb under his shirt. Jack Russ, the sergeant-at-arms of the House, said today that the urgent steps following the Oct. 18 scare were the beginning of a tighter security system. In an interview, Mr. Russ said the bomb taken into the building ''was not a dud.'' It failed to explode because the man ''had not placed his wiring properly,'' he said
(New York Times, 1998).

Rezwan Ferdaus Arrested, Accused Of Plotting Attack On Pentagon, Capitol Using Exploding RC Planes
Date: September 28, 2011
Source: NY Daily News

Abstract: A Massachusetts man with a degree in physics was busted Wednesday for plotting to blow up the Pentagon and the US Capitol with homemade drones, officials said.

Rezwan Ferdaus, 26, planned to fill two remote-controlled model airplanes with C-4 explosives and hand grenades and direct them into the iconic Washington buildings, said US Attorney Carmen Ortiz.

The feds said he purchased the model airplanes, one a replica of a Navy F-4 Phantom jet with a Playboy logo on its tail, using the name of former Yankee great Dave Winfield.

Ferdaus was arrested Wednesday morning after he obtained 25-pounds of C-4 explosives, three grenades and six automatic AK-47 assault rifles from FBI agents posing as Al Qaeda operatives.

"The conduct alleged today shows that Mr. Ferdaus had long planned to commit violent acts against our country," Ortiz said. "Thanks to the diligence of the FBI and our many other law enforcement partners, that plan was thwarted."

Ferdaus had been under surveillance by the FBI since March.

The Northeastern University physics grad, an American citizen, had vowed to commit violent "jihad" against the United States as far back as early 2010, according to a federal complaint.

In one of several secretly recorded phone conversations, he claimed he targeted the Pentagon and US Capitol because he wanted to "severely disrupt ... the head and heart of the snake," according to the complaint.

Ferdaus of Ashland, Mass, went as far as obtaining cell phones modified to act as bomb detonating devices, the complaint charges. He provided the phones to the undercover FBI agents along with videotaped instructions on how to use them.

When told the phones were used to set off explosives in Iraq that killed three US soldiers and injured up to five others, Ferdaus said, "That was exactly what I wanted," according to the complaint.

"I want the public to understand that Mr. Ferdaus' conduct, as alleged in the complaint, is not reflective of a particular culture, community or religion," Ortiz said.

"In addition to protecting our citizens from the threats and violence alleged today, we also have an obligation to protect members of every community, race and religion against violence and other unlawful conduct."

Ortiz said the public was never in danger because Ferdaus was being watched closely.

"Today's arrest was the culmination of an investigation forged through strong relationships among various Massachusetts law enforcement agencies to detect, deter and prevent terrorism," said Richard DesLauriers, special agent in charge of the FBI's Boston office.

If convicted, Ferdaus faces up to 15 years in prison.

Rep. Peter King (R-L.I.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, praised the arrest of Fedaus, saying he had been briefed on the investigation over the last several months.

"The fact that Ferdaus is a very well-educated physicist should serve as a reminder to us that the threat of Islamic terrorism transcends socioeconomics and does not only emanate from the poor and under-privileged," King said.

"Ferdaus' arrest also underscores the need to continue efforts to combat domestic radicalization and the evolving threat of 'lone wolf' extremists" (NY Daily News, 2011).

Security Drill Deals With Crashed Plane In The Knesset
Date: December 5, 2011
Arutz Sheva

Abstract: Knesset security and the Jerusalem district police anti-terror squad conducted a unique security exercise Monday – dealing with a scenario where a plane crashes into the Knesset. In the drill, the plane contained dangerous materials, and security and rescue forces were required to deal with the aftermath of such a situation. Security officers wore clothing to protect them from radiation and biological contamination.

Officials said that the drill was successful, and that they had perfected skills necessary to deal with a scenario like this
(Arutz Sheva, 2011).

Title: Explosives Found Near Kansas Capitol; Governor Threatened
February 16, 2012
Kansas City Star

An early-morning parking complaint led authorities to a pickup truck with homemade explosives across the street from the Kansas Capitol on Wednesday.

The truck’s discovery was the first in a day of unusual events at the statehouse that included threats made to the governor’s office and hundreds gathering on the steps of the Capitol to protest policies advocated by Gov. Sam Brownback and Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

Authorities detained a suspect driving the truck. They also arrested a Columbia, Mo., man and charged him with making harassing calls to the governor’s office.

Patrick Saleh, spokesman for the Capitol Police, said the three events were unrelated.

“Everything seems to be independent of each other. It just occurred on the same day by happenstance,” Saleh said.

The most potentially threatening situation was discovered by a state worker who was upset about where an unpermitted truck with a Florida plate was parked.

The truck was parked in state Lot No. 1 next to the Kansas Judicial Center, which houses the state Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals.

Police responded to the complaint and saw an empty holster inside. The black Ford pickup was dotted with decals including one with Uncle Sam that read: “Welcome to America. Now Speak English.”

Alarmed by what they found, police called in a bomb squad, which sent in a robotic device that found the homemade explosives. Details about the explosives were not available Wednesday evening

Police tracked down the driver in an underground tunnel that connects the Capitol to a state office building across the street. They found him by using his license plate number to get a photo, which was distributed to police at the Capitol.

The man, dressed in business attire, told police he was at the Capitol on state business. They detained the man and were questioning him late Wednesday. The man’s name was not released. Police were not sure where he was headed.

His arrest came hours before hundreds of people led a boisterous rally in front of the Capitol that targeted Kobach’s efforts to crack down on undocumented immigrants.

As the rally took place, Kobach was testifying in front of a House committee considering bills intended to curb illegal immigration.

Shortly after the pickup was found, the governor’s staff reported receiving at least two threatening calls from a man staying at a Motel 6 along a commercial strip on the west side of Topeka.

“They were mad rants of anger directed at the governor,” Saleh said.

Police arrested Steven J. Thibodeau of Columbia and booked him at the Shawnee County Jail on a charge of harassment by telephone.

Thibodeau claimed to have been moving to Salina, but police could not confirm an address for him there.

Saleh said the governor and the judges have their own security details. Those details have been notified and will take action as needed, he said.

The spokeswoman for the governor said Brownback had “a typical day” of meetings and speaking events. On Wednesday afternoon, he had a news conference to discuss wind energy.

She said the day was so busy that she didn’t discuss the day’s events with the governor (Kansas City Star, 2012).

Title: Terrorist Plots, Hatched  By The F.B.I.
Date: April 28, 2012
New York Times

Abstract: The United States has been narrowly saved from lethal terrorist plots in recent years — or so it has seemed. A would-be suicide bomber was intercepted on his way to the Capitol; a scheme to bomb synagogues and shoot Stinger missiles at military aircraft was developed by men in Newburgh, N.Y.; and a fanciful idea to fly explosive-laden model planes into the Pentagon and the Capitol was hatched in Massachusetts.

But all these dramas were facilitated by the F.B.I., whose undercover agents and informers posed as terrorists offering a dummy missile, fake C-4 explosives, a disarmed suicide vest and rudimentary training. Suspects naïvely played their parts until they were arrested.

When an Oregon college student, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, thought of using a car bomb to attack a festive Christmas-tree lighting ceremony in Portland, the F.B.I. provided a van loaded with six 55-gallon drums of “inert material,” harmless blasting caps, a detonator cord and a gallon of diesel fuel to make the van smell flammable. An undercover F.B.I. agent even did the driving, with Mr. Mohamud in the passenger seat. To trigger the bomb the student punched a number into a cellphone and got no boom, only a bust.

This is legal, but is it legitimate? Without the F.B.I., would the culprits commit violence on their own? Is cultivating potential terrorists the best use of the manpower designed to find the real ones? Judging by their official answers, the F.B.I. and the Justice Department are sure of themselves — too sure, perhaps.

Carefully orchestrated sting operations usually hold up in court. Defendants invariably claim entrapment and almost always lose, because the law requires that they show no predisposition to commit the crime, even when induced by government agents. To underscore their predisposition, many suspects are “warned about the seriousness of their plots and given opportunities to back out,” said Dean Boyd, a Justice Department spokesman. But not always, recorded conversations show. Sometimes they are coaxed to continue.

Undercover operations, long practiced by the F.B.I., have become a mainstay of counterterrorism, and they have changed in response to the post-9/11 focus on prevention. “Prior to 9/11 it would be very unusual for the F.B.I. to present a crime opportunity that wasn’t in the scope of the activities that a person was already involved in,” said Mike German of the American Civil Liberties Union, a lawyer and former F.B.I. agent who infiltrated white supremacist groups. An alleged drug dealer would be set up to sell drugs to an undercover agent, an arms trafficker to sell weapons. That still happens routinely, but less so in counterterrorism, and for good reason.

“There isn’t a business of terrorism in the United States, thank God,” a former federal prosecutor, David Raskin, explained.

“You’re not going to be able to go to a street corner and find somebody who’s already blown something up,” he said. Therefore, the usual goal is not “to find somebody who’s already engaged in terrorism but find somebody who would jump at the opportunity if a real terrorist showed up in town.”

And that’s the gray area. Who is susceptible? Anyone who plays along with the agents, apparently. Once the snare is set, law enforcement sees no choice. “Ignoring such threats is not an option,” Mr. Boyd argued, “given the possibility that the suspect could act alone at any time or find someone else willing to help him.”

Typically, the stings initially target suspects for pure speech — comments to an informer outside a mosque, angry postings on Web sites, e-mails with radicals overseas — then woo them into relationships with informers, who are often convicted felons working in exchange for leniency, or with F.B.I. agents posing as members of Al Qaeda or other groups.

Some targets have previous involvement in more than idle talk: for example, Waad Ramadan Alwan, an Iraqi in Kentucky, whose fingerprints were found on an unexploded roadside bomb near Bayji, Iraq, and Raja Khan of Chicago, who had sent funds to an Al Qaeda leader in Pakistan.

But others seem ambivalent, incompetent and adrift, like hapless wannabes looking for a cause that the informer or undercover agent skillfully helps them find. Take the Stinger missile defendant James Cromitie, a low-level drug dealer with a criminal record that included no violence or hate crime, despite his rants against Jews. “He was searching for answers within his Islamic faith,” said his lawyer, Clinton W. Calhoun III, who has appealed his conviction. “And this informant, I think, twisted that search in a really pretty awful way, sort of misdirected Cromitie in his search and turned him towards violence.”

THE informer, Shahed Hussain, had been charged with fraud, but avoided prison and deportation by working undercover in another investigation. He was being paid by the F.B.I. to pose as a wealthy Pakistani with ties to Jaish-e-Mohammed, a terrorist group that Mr. Cromitie apparently had never heard of before they met by chance in the parking lot of a mosque.

“Brother, did you ever try to do anything for the cause of Islam?” Mr. Hussain asked at one point.

“O.K., brother,” Mr. Cromitie replied warily, “where you going with this, brother?”

Two days later, the informer told him, “Allah has more work for you to do,” and added, “Revelation is going to come in your dreams that you have to do this thing, O.K.?” About 15 minutes later, Mr. Hussain proposed the idea of using missiles, saying he could get them in a container from China. Mr. Cromitie laughed.

Reading hundreds of pages of transcripts of the recorded conversations is like looking at the inkblots of a Rorschach test. Patterns of willingness and hesitation overlap and merge. “I don’t want anyone to get hurt,” Mr. Cromitie said, and then explained that he meant women and children. “I don’t care if it’s a whole synagogue of men.” It took 11 months of meandering discussion and a promise of $250,000 to lead him, with three co-conspirators he recruited, to plant fake bombs at two Riverdale synagogues.

“Only the government could have made a ‘terrorist’ out of Mr. Cromitie, whose buffoonery is positively Shakespearean in its scope,” said Judge Colleen McMahon, sentencing him to 25 years. She branded it a “fantasy terror operation” but called his attempt “beyond despicable” and rejected his claim of entrapment.

The judge’s statement was unusual, but Mr. Cromitie’s characteristics were not. His incompetence and ambivalence could be found among other aspiring terrorists whose grandiose plans were nurtured by law enforcement. They included men who wanted to attack fuel lines at Kennedy International Airport; destroy the Sears Tower (now Willis Tower) in Chicago; carry out a suicide bombing near Tampa Bay, Fla., and bomb subways in New York and Washington. Of the 22 most frightening plans for attacks since 9/11 on American soil, 14 were developed in sting operations.

Another New York City subway plot, which recently went to trial, needed no help from government. Nor did a bombing attempt in Times Square, the abortive underwear bombing in a jetliner over Detroit, a planned attack on Fort Dix, N.J., and several smaller efforts. Some threats are real, others less so. In terrorism, it’s not easy to tell the difference (New York Times, 2012).

Title: Tunisia's Police Find Weapons And Explosives Stashed Near The Capital
Date: February 21, 2013
Fox News

Abstract: Tunisia's Interior Ministry says large quantities of weapons and explosives have been seized in a town near the capital Tunis.

Dozens of Kalashnikov assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, explosives and ammunition were seized in Mnihla around 15 kilometers (10 miles) outside the capital late Wednesday night.

Thursday's statement said the operation was carried out by the national guard backed by a commando unit.

Last month another weapons cache was found in the southern city of Medenine, near the Libyan border.

Tunisia has not been exposed to the widespread militant violence found in neighboring Algeria and Libya, but there have been some incidents.

Police also announced the arrest of 13 suspects in the low-income Douar Hicher neighborhood of Tunis, the site of clashes between police and ultraconservative Muslims known as Salafis (Fox News, 2013).